This month, I’m marking an occasion I seriously did not think I’d reach. I’ve been blogging for two years.
Seriously. Maybe that’s no big thing to you, but doing something continually for two years is pretty big to me.
The blog world has been great to me. I’ve put a lot into blogging, but I really do think I’ve recieved more from this endeavor than I’ve put into it. So this month, I want to give something back to blog land. I’m scattering a selection of posts throughout October, all about one of our favorite pastimes as blog enthusiasts, meant to help, encourage and challenge you as bloggers and blog readers.
The first thing I have to do for Blog Month is to answer the question I think I’ve been asked, and have asked myself the most about blogging…
Seriously. Two years ago, I decided that three times a week, I’d write a blog. Why on earth would I do that?
That’s really the hardest thing to communicate to non-blog people. It’s like trying to get your girlfriend to play a non-Mario videogame. Or like trying to get your man to help you pick coordinating window curtains. To non-readers, the reaction is a lot of, “What’s the freaking point of this nonsense?”
Them: “So, do you make any money by doing this?”
Them: “Uh-huh…do you know any of the people who read this stuff you’re writing?”
Me: “Well…in a way I do…but, no.”
Them: “Can you tell me even one conceivable benefit to sharing your unimpressive personal life with complete and total strangers?”
Me: “…Um…not off the top of my head…”
But really, whenever I’ve stumbled over this question, I’ve missed the completely obvious answer. No, blogging probably won’t make you any money. But neither does playing Magic the Gathering. And blogging is at least less than half as nerdy as that. So there. But really, I think some non-blog-readers have the same perception as people who don’t play Magic, that blogging is a ridiculously nerdy waste of time where hopelessly introverted people sit at their computers in Mom’s basement, and give mundane details of their lives and whine about their lack of social skills, in between tending to Farmville.
On the contrary, blogging is probably the least nerdy part of my day. Consider that my ordinary day to day agenda includes: solving the New York Times crossword in pen in under ten minutes, practicing my lightsaber moves with my homemade lightsaber, solemnly meditating on the meaning of Jack Bauer, reciting pi…all of it, and watching Oprah.
Nerdy or not, the huge benefit to blogging is…
Yep, you. Yes, you there, sitting in your underwear, eating cheese puffs while you read this. You, over there, pretending to work in your cubicle. You are the reason I say I’ve gained more from blogging than I’ve put in. As a teenage Christian, the number of Christians I knew equalled the number of Christians in my youth group. My world was very small. Now, I’ve become acquainted with Christians all over America and the world. That’s amazing.
What is fantastic about blogging is its communal nature. I am constantly encouraged and challenged by all the comments and emails that are sent in. Come to think of it, a majority of this blog belongs to you, the readers. The posts I write are just a springboard for a huge conversation that dwarfs what I say, even if I’m the one talking first…and loudest…and most often…and sometimes most coherantly.
I am really stunned at the variety of people I’ve come into contact with. I’ve talked to authors, pastors, lay leaders, ordinary Christians, parents, missionaries, veterans, doubters, strugglers, people whose lives and perspectives I can’t possibly have predicted. Against all my doubts, I have met many people who are smarter, more interesting, inspiring, and handsome than even me.
And it is nice every once in a while if you can meet some online contacts. Just last Saturday, I got to make a trip to Pennsylvania to speak at a youth rally at Camp Harmony. Those kids were really great to me, and my hosts were gracious, and I was there just because of this. I really do think I recieved more from that event than I gave to those kids. I hope I get to do a lot more of that kind of thing.
And in meeting so many people, I’ve realized something really important.
I Like People Watching
No one thinks they are very interesting. People who act like they are interesting are just faking it to cover up their insecurities. But I am fascinated by the stories of regular people. I love it when I talk to someone who I know is much more interesting than me, and they make me feel like I am the genuinely interesting one, because I think I’m just about the least interesting guy on earth. Everyone has a story to tell, and it’s a great one, whether it’s inspiring, funny, gritty or tragic.
You are the only person who is…well, you! No one else can tell your story. You may think it’s not worth telling (and not all of it is), but there’s got to be something in there that’s valuable to other people. I genuinely anticipate hearing from you three times a week as much as I anticipate sharing with you what’s on my mind.
And that’s what blogging is all about, Charlie Brown. Once you realize what your motivation is, it becomes really addicting.
I’ve got all kinds of good stuff saved up to tell you this month about meeting new blog readers, dealing with conflict and criticism, overcoming writer’s block (which I’ve had a lot of), and worshiping those ever-present blog idols we all have.
Oh, and heads up right now. I’ve got a really sweet author interview coming this Friday. There will be books given away. Maybe I’ll give you another clue about who it is on Wednesday. Suffice it to say, you won’t want to miss it.
If you’re a blogger, or just read blogs, what value to you get out of it? What keeps you coming back? What makes you just have to leave that comment? What do you tell people when they ask you what is the point of all this? How long have you been a part of blog-land?